Part of the description tag of this blog is “what happens to kids who don’t care to live in boxes.” Well, apparently, one thing that happens is that they get kicked out of school.
Meet Kamryn Renfro of Colorado. She shaved her head in solidarity with her friend, Delaney Clements, who has been battling neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. Delaney was really tickled by her gesture, but apparently her school wasn’t. Kamryn was sent home from school for “violating its dress code” and told she could not return until her hair grew back. Just like in Buncombe County, NC, a bunch of national attention made the school change its mind, but I would really like to see the wording of that dress code. “Girls must have hair?” Click the photo above to read more about the story.
Then there’s 8 year-old Sunnie Kahle, in Virginia who doesn’t just have short hair to help a friend, but because it’s who she is, just like her athletic jerseys. Her school (Timberlake Christian) wrote a letter to her guardians telling them that when the “atmosphere or conduct within a particular home is counter to or in opposition to the biblical lifestyle that the school teaches, the school reserves the right . . . to discontinue enrollment of a student. . . . This includes . . . alternative gender identity.” (See the letter here.) Particularly troubling to the school was that some of the other students didn’t know if Sunnie was a boy or a girl. (Some students at my son’s school don’t know if he’s a boy or girl, either, and he has been asked if he’s in the wrong bathroom as well. The school decided to respond by educating the other kids instead of kicking mine out – go figure.) Click the image above for more.
It is easy to think that girls have it much easier than boys when they don’t fit in their assigned gender box. And there are some ways in which that’s true, but I know enough parents and families to know that this attitude can create double pain and heartache when, not only do you have to watch your daughter be hurt, rejected, humiliated, or bullied, but also have her experience negated by those you thought of as your allies.
One of the problems for me when discussing gender is always statistics. Whenever a study shows that 80% of boys are x way, it is reported in magazines and other media as “boys are x way.” The other 20% of boys (which is 1 in 5, people!) is effectively erased. Similarly, saying that there are more known instances of boys being harassed for non-conforming gender identity does absolutely nothing to assuage the pain for the girls who are. Even if there were only two of them. And there are many more. So let’s make our motto: Any time children are made to feel awful for being who they are, it’s not OK, and we’re going to say so.